Yayoi Kusama was practically born to design Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The 83-year-old Japanese artist has suffered from severe hallucinations since childhood--a medical condition that has driven her to cover everything from mannequins to entire rooms in big, cheerful spots. Her surreal worldview is the perfect complement to that of Lewis Carroll, whose classic children’s novel was the ne plus ultra of Victorian psychedelia.
Penguin has released a Kusama-illustrated edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to coincide with a retrospective of the artist’s work at the Whitney Museum this summer. The book is every bit as head-screwy as you’d expect, with dancing mushrooms and warping pumpkins and oversized polka dots wandering off the page.
In many ways, Kusama’s drawings represent Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland better than the literal-minded images you traditionally see. Alice is a fantasy--a loopy acid trip of a tale that can’t be neatly captured by prim little Victorian illustrations. In Kusama’s hands, the Alice stories get the artwork they (and their imaginative young readers) deserve. These are books for the curiouser and curiouser among us.
[Images courtesy of Penguin]